Professional poker player Yuval Bronhstein talked with Somuchpoker’s Gaelle Jaudon in this interview.
This interview is by Gaelle Jaudon
Somuchpoker: You won your second wsop bracelet last year, the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event, and declared it was even a better feeling than the first one you had in mixed game in 2019. Why is that?
Yuval Bronhstein: I think it speaks more to somebody winning two bracelets. I mean obviously it’s not easy to win one bracelet but winning two really solidifies you as a winner. It shows that you can keep winning and you’re a serious player. And on top of that, during my head’s up for my second bracelet, my opponent Kevin Erickson had a twenty to 1 chiplead against me three different times during our match. So I went from 200,000 chips up to 3 millions and back to 200,000 three times, which was one big blind at that time. I thought it was over so coming back from that is very fortunate and it was why it was also such an amazing feeling. Even if I win 10 bracelets I don’t know if I can ever get that feeling of triumph of coming back from that situation.
SMP: You play Horse tournaments and different types of games, what is the game you’re the most comfortable playing?
YB: When I first got into poker, I saw those guys playing it on TV and winning bracelets and that’s the reason why I became a poker player. I wanted the glory of winning bracelets. When I first came to the WSOP I had success in No Limit Hold’em and a lot of people are still telling me it’s actually my best game. But I came to the WSOP for bracelet hunting and I think my best chance at winning is by playing mix games events so when that became the first goal of my career I decided to study mix games a lot. But I like playing many games and switching games, it keeps it interesting instead of playing Hold’em all the time. I’ve found a niche in that and I feel my chances of winning are greater thanks to mix games. Although I have to say that my number one goal for this year, beside a bracelet at the WSOP, is to win a major No Limit Hold’em tournament. I’m switching a bit my focus into NLH this year because even if it’s nice to be known as a mixed game player, I think I’m also really good in NLH and I would like recognition in that as well. So I’m working a lot on NLH this year!
But the games I’m enjoying playing the most are the lowball draw games. The game where I won my first bracelet was a 2-7 single draw but unfortunately I only get to play that game once or twice a year. There are not really many options to play that type of game. And I also enjoy a lot the Limit 2-7 triple draw and pot limit Omaha, as well as 5-card Omaha. PLO is actually the game I play the most throughout the year where I live, in south Florida. So the games I enjoy the most are the ones with the most action, you get more cards, with a lot of bettings and a lot of decisions. That being said, the most I study is probably Stud high-low. Back in the Full Tilt days I won a FTP in that game and I got 3rd place in the 10K Stud event at the WSOP. I had multiple deep runs in Stud high-low events and in that kind of field I feel I have an edge playing that game over anybody else.
SMP: How do you plan on working on NLH?
YB: I’m just going to play a lot more NLH events. The past 15 years at the WSOP I’ve been prioritizing mix games and I was playing NLH when I had a day off. During the last WSOP I only played 5 NLH tournaments and I cashed in 2 of them and made a final table. And in 2012 I reached a 23rd place in the Main Event so since a few months I’m just actually playing more. I recently cashed in 7 consecutives NLH tournaments in a series in Florida so I was pretty happy with that! Usually I wasn’t playing mx games all year around, mostly during the WSOP and the rest of the year I was mostly playing Omaha and sometimes NLH.
SMP: Who do you think are your toughest opponents in mixed games in general?
YB: I would say, myself! There are definitely a lot of really great players in that kind of field and especially at the big buy-ins during the WSOP. But there isn’t really anybody who I feel is better than me when I play. When I play my best I feel that nobody can beat me. That may or may not be true but that’s how I feel and it makes me confident. And I think that when I was younger I had issues with tilting and maybe sometimes not playing my best. I think now that I’m older and more experienced I’m able to play my A game almost all the time. So I think in the past my toughest opponent has been myself because I wasn’t playing at my best but now I don’t really worry about anybody else because most of the time I’m at my best level.
SMP: You opened up on facebook during the WSOP about how you were struggling to overcome a couple of places close to the money in 25K buy and in the 50k players championship. You also made the bubble in the 25k HORSE and you made a long post to explain how difficult it could be to recover mentally. What do you learn from that and keep the motivation to play, when the variance hits you? Because even at small buy-in it can be a real struggle.
YB: I had to learn over the years how to manage my emotions and my mentality. I was very distraught at the moment, I felt very heartbroken to bubble that 25K event especially because the reason I bubbled it was not due to a bad play. I just had a series of unfortunate hands where I played the way that I should and it didn’t go my way so as soon as I got knocked out of the tournament I was very upset and I vented on facebook about it. But me being the professional that I am, the next day I’m fine! It just takes like one night to sleep it off and then I feel better and go over it. Actually going through that difficult time and emotions motivated me even more and I played better the rest of the series because after bubbling such a big tournament right away that was so important to me, I had to do something to make up for this! People talk about the butterfly effect and I believe in that. It’s very likely that I wouldn’t have won my second bracelet if I didn’t bubble the 25K, or even if I just had made the money. So it’s all about harnessing your energy and learning how to deal with bad beats, managing your emotions and not letting it affect you in a negative way. I actually think that when the good players get down really bad, we manage to find a way to make it have an effect in a positive way and to lift you up to the next event.
SMP: On a more personal aspect, you live in the US but you were born in Israel. Do you mainly stay in the US now and do you play a lot of cash games?
YB: I live in Miami now. I was born in Israel and I moved to the States when I was 5 years old. I grew up in Atlanta and I moved around many places. I even moved back to Israel at some point but I’m back in the US now. I do play cash games here, around twice a week I play a Stud high-low cash game at the casino. On my typical everyday grind I play PLO in some online poker clubs. I play 5-card PLO and Big O, those are my regular everyday games and a one NLH game once a week as well. This year I decided I’m going to travel more to play tournaments so lately I’ve been playing mostly NLH but when I’m in town I play mostly PLO.
SMP: You have 15 years of experience in poker now, which is a very long career already. What are you the most proud of when you look back at your poker journey? In what way do you think you improved the most?
YB: I’m very proud of my two bracelets because when I started playing poker that was my number one goal, to win as many bracelets as I could. It took me a while to get the first one but now I feel like I’m rolling and I hope to win them at a consistent rate now, once every year or two years who knows! But I feel I’m much more capable of winning them now. But I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve set a goal of winning at least one bracelet and not only I achieved that but I won a second and I plan on continuing that.